Online letter campaign targets McDonald's antibiotic usage

by Kimberlie Clyma
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 McDonalds Future

UK organization is encouraging consumers to write letters of concern to McDonald’s CEO. 

 

LONDON – ShareAction, a UK-based organization designed to encourage responsible investment, has launched an online campaign designed to send a message to McDonald’s CEO Steve Easterbrook about the use of antibiotics in the company’s global livestock supply chains. ShareAction has set up an online letter writing campaign to help consumers communicate their concerns with McDonald’s management.

The campaign comes on the heels of McDonald’s announcing it had fulfilled its commitment to only serve chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine ahead of its original March 2017 schedule.  McDonald’s credited “a collaborative effort with its suppliers and farmers on a large scale” for achieving the milestone ahead of schedule. Now, every chicken item McDonald’s serves is made from chicken not treated with antibiotics important to human medicine.

According to ShareAction, in April, investors wrote to McDonald’s, along with nine other US and UK companies, requesting that they end the routine use of antibiotics important to human health in global meat and poultry supply chains. In addition, 22 percent of McDonalds shareholders recently voted in favor of a shareholder proposal coordinated by US shareholder activism groups, As You Sow and ICCR (Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility), which called for an end to the routine use of medically important antibiotics in global livestock supply chains. ShareAction says McDonald’s has failed to provide a meaningful response to that suggestion.

 “Investors are right to express their concern directly to the board of McDonald’s, and now as individuals we can too, using this new web tool,” said Catherine Howarth, Chief Executive at ShareAction. “Improved animal welfare practices are a far more sensible way to prevent disease than antibiotic overuse. We hope this action will encourage McDonald’s to supersize their ambition – now is the time for action.”

ShareAction’s online campaign allows consumers to contact Easterbrook using a web letter submission form on its website (www.shareaction.org).

The letter states:

“I’m writing to express my serious concern about the excessive use of medically important antibiotics in McDonald’s supply chains.

“I was encouraged to learn that McDonald’s entire US chicken supply is now raised without the use of medically important antibiotics, and that you aim to phase out use of the ‘highest priority critically important’ antibiotics within your European poultry supply chains by 2018. However, I’m alarmed by your failure to make a meaningful commitment to phase out the routine prophylactic use of medically important antibiotics across the whole of your global livestock supply chains. The use of antibiotics in this way – for the prevention rather than the treatment of disease – should be phased out in favor of improved animal rearing practices.”

The letter goes on to request a call-to-action from McDonald’s. The commitments letter writers are asking of McDonald’s include:

1. Prohibiting the use of antibiotics important to human medicine in the meat and dairy supply chain globally (including for chicken, beef, pork), for purposes other than disease treatment or non-routine control of veterinarian-diagnosed illness;

2. Identifying timelines for global implementation of this commitment, including for meals currently not sourced from dedicated suppliers.

Emma Rose from the Alliance to Save Our Antibiotics, an EU coalition of organizations calling to ban the routine use of antibiotics in healthy animals, said, “McDonald’s has an opportunity to demonstrate global leadership by committing to phase out the routine use of antibiotics entirely – not just limited to chicken in its US market – and doing so would drive up standards across the industry.”

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